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Ex-NFL Player Convicted of Assault

Lawrence Phillips drove a car into a group of boys and men near the Coliseum, hitting three of them. He has a history of legal troubles.

October 11, 2006|J. Michael Kennedy | Times Staff Writer

Former NFL running back Lawrence Phillips was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon Tuesday for driving a car into a group of boys and young men and striking three of them after a pickup football game last year near the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The conviction was the latest in a long string of legal troubles for the former University of Nebraska star, whose police record dates back more than a decade for arrests and convictions involving violent behavior and traffic violations.

Those brushes include at least five arrests on suspicion of assaulting women, including one in which he remains accused of choking his girlfriend into unconsciousness in August 2005 in San Diego.

He is still awaiting legal proceedings in that case.

In the verdict Tuesday, a Los Angeles County Superior Court jury deliberated for about an hour before finding Phillips guilty of seven counts of assault with a deadly weapon. He was convicted of driving a 2003 black Honda Accord onto a field near the Coliseum on Aug. 21, 2005, striking two boys, ages 14 and 15, and a 19-year-old man. According to testimony at the trial, he narrowly missed hitting four others standing nearby.

After being on the losing team in the football game, he accused the boys he was playing with of stealing his equipment and stormed off the field, only to return driving the speeding Honda, prosecutors said.

Phillips' lawyer, Leslie Ringold, contended that police were intent on arresting Phillips because of his high profile and assumed that he was guilty before investigating. She said there was a "woeful" lack of evidence that an assault was committed.

Phillips has been in jail since his arrest.

As a player at the University of Nebraska, Phillips was a standout talent who helped the Cornhuskers win two national championships in the 1990s.

But his apparent difficulty in controlling his temper shortened Phillips' once-promising football career.

Several NFL and Canadian football league teams cut him for infractions that included insubordination, clashing with coaches and other disciplinary problems.

The incident at the pickup game occurred three days after San Diego police announced a $1,000 reward for information as to his whereabouts in connection with assaults on his girlfriend.

Phillips spent his teens in a West Covina group home.

He could face more than 13 years in prison in the Los Angeles assault case and an additional 15 years on the San Diego charges.

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michael.kennedy@latimes.com

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